“No e-gates working. Lovely end to our first family holiday…” tweeted Jonathan Rudling, sharing a photo of snaking queues at passport control in Terminal 5.
One passenger caught up in the queues was Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association.
He tweeted: “Saddens me to say this as past experiences good but arrival Heathrow Airport this morning to find not a single e-gate working in T5 and yes, you guessed, mega queues.
“Such a disappointing way to greet returning nationals and valuable guests from all around the world.”
Wratten showed a photo of a trolley of water being brought out to refresh passengers, adding: “You know you are in for a horrible experience entering Britain when the water trolley turns up.”
He then addressed the transport secretary and minister for aviation, Grant Shapps and Robert Courts, saying “We have all worked hard to get the travel industry moving. Why are we trashing the good work by treating passengers terribly?”
The software failure affected a number of UK ports, according to the Home Office.
The last e-gates failure occurred in early October, when customers reported long queues and expected waits of up to four or five hours.
Prior to that, passengers reported incidents of overly long queues at the end of September and over the busy August Bank Holiday.
Border Force, controlled by the Home Office, is responsible for queue management at border points such as airports.
“We are aware of a nationwide issue impacting the e-gates, which are staffed and operated by Border Force,” said a Heathrow Airport spokesperson.
“This issue is impacting a number of ports of entry and is not Heathrow specific. Our teams are working closely with Border Force to resolve the problem and we apologise for any impact on passenger journeys.”
“We are aware of a technical issue affecting e-gates at a number of ports,” said a Border Force spokesperson.
“We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and apologise to all passengers for the inconvenience caused.”
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